Thoughts on freedom: Kids muse about what it means

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 13, 2002

Ask a classroom full of students what freedom means to them, and you’ll get as many different answers as students.

The Albert Lea Sertoma Club did just that with its annual “What Freedom Means to Me” essay contest. The contest was open to all sixth-grade classes in Albert Lea; classes from Hawthorne and Sibley chose to participate and six winners were chosen.

Those winners and their parents got lunch Friday at the Elks Lodge, received $50 savings bonds, read their essays to Sertoma Club members and on KATE Radio, and had their essays printed in the Albert Lea Tribune, said Mary Ann Venem, chairwoman of the contest for the Sertoma Club.

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Jordann Kunkel said she submitted her essay for the contest because she thought when she wrote it was true, and writing it helped her feel like an individual.

Added Andrew Peterson, “I thought it was a good way to express my feelings as an American.”

Following are the winning essays.

What Freedom Means to Me

By Heidi Czaplewski

Hawthorne Elementary

Daughter of Roberta and Mike Czaplewski

To me freedom means that I have rights and I will be treated fairly. In some countries people don’t have choices or decisions. They are just told what to do. I am glad I can express my opinions and say what I feel. In our country it doesn’t matter where you come from, what you look like, or what gender you are. Everyone is treated equally. In the past women were treated like they were less than men. I’m glad we’ve realized that everyone is the same.

The last few months have been a sad time. We should continue to be kind to each other and remember that other people have feelings too. I am happy to be able to have the freedom to act how I want and to be able to help other people.

I think one of the most important freedoms we have is the freedom to do or don’t do what we want. Our government can’t tell us what to do or where to live.

I think we are all very lucky to live in the United States. In other countries people are treated badly and sometimes don’t get food for days.

I am glad we accept people of all races and religions. In the past our country didn’t believe that, African-Americans were as good as everyone else. I respect Martin Luther King. He stood up for what he believed and changed the way people think. That took a lot of courage. I am glad he showed us we are all the same.

I’m happy I can believe what I want. I don’t believe that who you are is determined by what you look like, or where and how you live. How you act and what you believe is all that counts.

By Andrew Peterson

Hawthorne Elementary

Son of Traci Peterson

There are many freedoms that I have. I take most of my freedoms for granted.

One of my freedoms is freedom of speech. Whenever we want to state our opinion we can.

Another is that we have a choice to go to school. If we want to drop out we can, but it would be to our disadvantage. We don’t have to be judged by our wealth to get into a certain school.

Whenever I want I can take a walk. In some countries if you are known to steal you cannot walk on the streets in certain parts of the town. Some places have armed people on the streets.

Also I have rights. I can do what I want, but there is a line in which you shouldn’t cross. I have rights that can help me.

I can state my opinion without being arrested or beat up. I know someone who said something and got arrested, because it offended someone. I have the right to say things without having someone arrest me, because it offended someone.

We can have our own beliefs, like religion, race, and gender. I wouldn’t be made fun of because I’m a Catholic. If your religion is not liked you can be beat up and be called names in other countries.

We are innocent until proven guilty. You are not guilty right away, but you can be proven guilty if the people have the right evidence. In some countries they will say that you are guilty right away.

Another thing is that I won’t be judged by my wealth. I can be really poor yet be as equal as everybody else. In some countries if you are poor you will be told what you can do and what you can’t.

I can pick the profession I want to have. I won’t have to be rich to be an aeronautical engineer. The government won’t pick my job. I can be very poor, but yet I can have whatever job I want.

I can go wherever I want without being told where I can and where I can’t go. I can travel all over the world. Some countries make you stay in one country.

By Karey Dyrdal

Hawthorne Elementary

Daughter of Tom and Malinda Dyrdal

Freedom Is GREAT! Because in the United States people have the choice to go to school, run for office, and much more. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, girls have to wear clothes that cover themselves all the way up. Here, in the United States we can wear whatever we want. We also have the freedom of speech. There are also laws about that because if we say to the president that we hate him and we are really mad and then hit him we could get in trouble with the law. Another big one is that back in the ’50s blacks couldn’t go into a lot of the restaurants that whites could and I think that is totally disrespectful. So in the United States we can go anywhere, eat anywhere, you could be black, white, or purple, it doesn’t matter.

We can also have as many kids as we want but in places like China you can only have one child because China is so over populated! There are over one billion people that live there. Here you can have 10 kids and we don’t care. One major reason that people choose to live here is because they can be whatever religion they want to be. They get to practice any religion they want to.

Now, I am glad that everybody is free to do most of the things they want to do. One thing that I am looking forward to is when I am old enough to get married I can marry whoever I want. In some countries the fathers make their children marry who they want them to marry and not who their son/ daughter wants to marry. Another great freedom is that when I am 18 I will be able to vote for who I want running for office. Back in the olden days blacks couldn’t vote because of the color of their skin. Now I feel so HAPPY that everyone can vote.

One of my all-time favorite freedoms is that we get to live wherever we want to. Because when I grow up I want to live in Hawaii. In some places people

can’t live wherever they want because their families and people in office won’t let them. This is one of the last freedoms that I am going to talk about. People have the right to go to school. Nobody is holding them back so they can go into college, or they can drop out when they become 18. This goes to show that the United States has so many freedoms and choices. That is truly what makes me proud to be an American!

By Jordann Kunkel

Sibley Elementary

Daughter of Kathy Kunkel and Mike Callahan

“I have a dream that one day all people will be free.” Martin Luther King said this, and then someone who didn’t believe all people should have equal rights shot him. Martin Luther King died for freedom. In all of history people have died to be free.

Freedom is a right to be equal no matter what your race, color, or religion is. To be free means when I’m 18 I can vote the way I want to.

Freedom is I can think, or say what I want to. I can go to college or work in a factory. I’m free to make of my life what I want. My dream can come true. Whereas in countries that are not free, you are told what to do, you have no choice.

Freedom is reading a newspaper and the news may be good or bad, but we have the freedom of speech.

If I want to express that I don’t like how the government is, I won’t be shot for my ideas or beliefs. Freedom is a feeling also, a good feeling, like when the flag goes by my heart smiles.

Freedom does not mean we don’t have rules and laws, but with freedom, we can help make them, by voting.

Freedom is also a responsibility we have to read about our politicians so we know if they are voting at the capitol the way we want them to.

In America you are born free. We don’t realize what freedom means until we learn about other countries and how their people are treated. In America a person gets a trial if they get in trouble; in other countries they can be shot.

Freedom makes everybody equal: women, people of different races and different religions. In some countries women can’t even vote, and different races are kicked out of their country or killed.

In America we can stand up for freedom. I’m proud to be a proud American.

By Jessica Herman

Sibley Elementary

Daughter of Ted and Laurie Herman

Freedom means the right to say, think, and believe what you want to. It doesn’t come in a package; it’s not a person, but a privilege. A privilege that our founding fathers gave us.

Since Sept. 11 I realized just how wonderful it is to be an American. I am grateful for the rights and freedom that I get each day. I now hold the symbolism of our flag with more pride then ever before.

Not all countries get the rights and freedom that we Americans take for granted. In some countries the people do not have a choice in religion. Their ruler decides what they should believe in, how they should dress, and even whom they should marry, and how many children they can have.

Americans are lucky enough to have “choice.” Choices that let us be ourselves. We’re not expected to be the same. Americans are supposed to stand out and be different. Uniqueness is what Americans live for.

I am thankful for the freedom that I have. Because of that freedom, I know that I can grow up and be the adult that “I” want to be. No one is going to tell me what I should think, feel, or believe in. I have the right to be an individual – we all do.

America is freedom.

By Josh Hites

Son of Jennifer Johnson and Terry Schaefer

Freedom is very important to me because its not fair that some people don’t get to be free and do what they want to do. But it’s the reality of the world. Most people in the world don’t get to be free. After the World Trade Center disaster we need to show our freedom more than ever. We can’t sit around blaming all the people from Afghanistan because that religion in general are not the ones that did this. So now I’m going to get back to the point. I think that freedom should not just be for America I think all countries should have freedom. A lot of people take freedom for granted because we have always had freedom but a lot of others would give just about anything for the kind of freedom we take for granted every day. So I think we should help other countries gain as much freedom as we have. Right now I’m sifting at a computer in my school in Albert Lea, Minn. and kids in Afghanistan aren’t because they cant afford computers.

So I think we should stop taking freedom for granted and take a minute to realize just how much freedom we have and start if you haven’t already to enjoy what freedom you have because for every one person that has freedom there are 50 who wish they had freedom like we do.